“Daddy! Help! Help!”

Her scream ripped through Ron more intensely and rapidly than any spell he’d ever encountered. The sounds of his daughter’s screams from across the house spread through him with more furiosity and elicited a more immediate physical response than was possible for any person that didn’t have a child to understand.

“Rosie?” he yelled back, scrambling to get a slippery and soapy Hugo out of the bath as quickly as he could. “What’s wrong?”

“Daddy! Come quickly!” A muffled sob followed.

Ron wrapped a towel around Hugo, who immediately became upset by the abrupt end to his bath time. Hugging Hugo protectively, Ron stalked across the hall to the door to Rosie’s room. He hesitated, making a trained decision to delay his entrance, taking a moment to place Hugo safely in his crib.

“Daddy! It’s coming closer! Help me!”

Ron felt nauseous. Had he just given his son safety at the expense of his daughter’s? Instinct that came from years as an Auror kicked in and banished any thoughts of emotional ties. Ron creeped quietly, avoiding the floorboards which he knew would give away his location. Rosie called out again, and Ron’s breath faltered for a moment. He couldn’t call back to her. He couldn’t give away his location. She, along with her attacker, had to believe that he wasn’t coming to her aid.

He placed his hand as delicately as possible on the doorknob. One breath, then another. He gripped his wand, but not so tightly that he’d lose control of his magic.

One, two, THREE!

In one fluid and practiced motion, Ron opened the door and raised his wand in front of him. He pointed around the room, but saw no attacker. Rosie was curled up in the corner of her bed, quivering in fear. Whatever was there, it was invisible to Ron.

“Where is it, Rosie?” he asked as calmly as he could manage. He crossed the room and stood in front of the bed, hopefully placing himself between the intruder and his daughter. The toy Quidditch teams she’d been playing with were scattered across her comforter.

“There, Daddy! On the bed!”

Ron turned around and traced her trembling, pointed finger.

Oh fucking hell.

A black spider the size of a Galleon was crawling slowly across the bed. It was especially creepy type, with a robust body and legs with clearly defined joints.

“It’s okay, Rosie, it’s just a spider. Nothing to be afraid of,” Ron said, his voice faltering under the blatant lie.

“Kill it!” she commanded, tears giving her already bright scarlet cheeks a shiny coating.

Ron fought his instincts to run out of the room. He raised his wand to the beast, but couldn’t vocalize any spells.

One, two, THREE!

Ron reached across the bed and scooped a terrified Rosie into his arms before scrambling out of the room. She’d have to share a room with Hugo now. She’d be angry, but eventually she’d understand. Or perhaps he could convince Hermione to move house altogether.

They retreated into the nursery, where Hugo was understandably furious about being banished to his crib well before bedtime.

“Up! Up!” he demanded.

Ron obeyed, lifting him out of the crib and using his wand to rinse the soap out of his hair. Rosie sat on the ground, the hue of her face slowly returning to normal. Ron assumed that his face was going through the same process.

“Daddy, Teddy is still in there,” she said.

“No, Sweetie,” Ron said. “Teddy is at home, with his Nana.”

“No, Daddy,” Rosie explained. “Not Teddy, Teddy. From Papa Granger. You have to save him.”

“He’ll be okay,” Ron said, hoping that by some miracle his daughter’s stubbornness would suddenly vanish along with their arachnophobia.

“No, Daddy, he’s afraid of spiders. And he’s very special to me, Papa Granger gave him to me!”

“Er…” Ron knew that she was right. He had to save Teddy and kill the spider. Desperately and in vain, he called out, “Hermione?”

“Mummy is at work, you said. You said she was working late tonight, but she would be home in time for stories. That’s what you said.”

He listened for a moment. No handbag was being thrown onto the kitchen table. No steps were coming up the stairs. No wife was coming through the door. Rosie was right, Hermione wasn’t there. Ron was constantly thwarted by his four year old daughter’s attention to detail and memory.

“Okay,” Ron resigned. “I’ll go. You stay here with Hugo.”

Ron stepped out of Hugo’s room and forced himself to re-enter the chamber of spiders. He gained a thread of pride when he had the foresight to cast muffliato on the room. His kids didn’t need to hear this.

“You think you’re clever, don’t you?” he said. “You think you can take over this house. I’m not going to let that happen, and I’m not going to bloody tapdance!”

The spider continued to make it’s way around the bed, contaminating every inch of it. A foreign gurgling sound escaped Ron as he took a step closer to the arachnide.

“Just a spider, just a spider,” he reminded himself in a continuous loop as he raised his wand. He couldn’t just kill it; he’d have to handle the corpse.

“Wingardium leviosa!”

The spider hovered above the bed, spinning frantically with unease from the new sensation. Ron’s breath came in spastic heaves, and he found himself grateful for casting muffliato when each time he attempted to exhale, instead he let out a hysterical hollar.

Finally gaining control over his magic, Ron sent the spider flying out the window and released it. Hopefully, it would hit the ground with enough force to kill it.

Ron pocketed his wand and gingerly carried Teddy from the bed back into Hugo’s room. He entered as a warrior returning from battle. He was slowly starting to regain feeling in his limbs.

“Daddy! You did it! You saved Teddy!”

Rosie rushed over to him and jumped up into his arms, hugging both he and Teddy tightly.

“It think we’d best get Hugo back in the bath, don’t you think?” Ron said, attempting to give his children a demonstration in humility, even after his great feat of bravery. The trio walked back into the bathroom, where Hugo and Rosie played with water toys until their fingers had turned into prunes. Teddy sat on the closed toilet, well away from the splash zone.

“When Mummy comes to read with you,” Ron said, “I want you to tell her about this. She won’t believe me if I tell her.”

“Why wouldn’t she believe you?” she asked, making Hugo giggle as she splashed a bit of water at him.

“Because I’m afraid of spiders.”

“No!” Rose said with a laugh. “You killed it!”

“Well,” Ron said in an unusual moment of cliched fatherly wisdom, “sometimes we have to face our fears for the people we love.”

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